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Investor Interest Perks Up For Evanston Office Buildings

820 Davis St. in downtown Evanston

Investor interest has perked up for downtown Evanston office buildings. Free Market Ventures, a Chicago-based group, just became the latest buyer to enter the market. The company bought 820 Davis St., a 76K SF office building in downtown Evanston, for $10.6M and plans an extensive renovation and modernization of the building.

Stephen Lieberman, first vice president, investments, in Marcus & Millichap’s Chicago Downtown office, procured the buyer and exclusively marketed the property on behalf of the seller, a North Shore-based private family that Cook County records show bought the building in 2002 for $6.2M.

“New ownership has the opportunity to renovate and reposition the property in the near term for additional value creation,” Lieberman said.

The vacancy rate in downtown Evanston stands at just 6.2%, roughly one-third of the rest of the suburbs, and half the rate of downtown Chicago, according to CBRE.

Investors have responded to this robust activity by opening up their wallets.

Last April, GEM Realty Capital acquired the 20-story Orrington Plaza, the city’s tallest building, for $91M, a major gain for Golub & Co. and Investcorp, which bought it for $61.1M just five years before.

And in December, a joint venture of investor Randy Rissman and CBRE Chairman Robert Wislow bought the 500 Davis office building for $32M, Cook County records show, a big jump from the $18M Steelbridge Capital paid in May 2016.

Free Market Ventures’ latest acquisition is a five-story office building that sits one block east of the Davis Street CTA and Metra train stations, four blocks south of the Northwestern University campus and one block west of Fountain Square.

“Considering the current and future outlook for office space demand in downtown Evanston, ownership should prove to be successful,” Lieberman said.